Website Maintenance Costs in 2020: What to Expect

Looking to launch a website soon? There is no better time to get started! With a plethora of tools and services at your disposal, you can have a fully functional website up and running within a few hours. However, it’s a good idea to figure out how much money you’ll have to dish out on website maintenance costs before getting started.

In this golden age of tech, website maintenance costs are now a part of doing business. The good news is that these costs have remained relatively the same over the past few years, and, if you’re looking to save some money, there are plenty of services you can skip.

Maintenance fees are almost entirely dependent upon the scale of your site and what you plan to do with it. If all you’re going to be running is a small personal or hobby blog, your fees will be minimal or non-existent. On the other hand, if you already own a well-established business with hundreds of customers, the costs can be quite steep. So, if you’re thinking about publishing or rehauling your website this 2020, this article covers what to expect with your website maintenance costs!

If you want to learn more details on each specific maintenance costs, the section after this breaks it all down. We’ve left out some of the higher-end services for websites that wouldn’t need those in the first place (i.e., personal blogs don’t really need to use an SEO maintenance service).

Personal or “hobby” blog

Hobby or personal blogs, which typically only have around 100-200 or so monthly visitors, are incredibly cheap to run. A large percentage of your fees will involve hosting and the initial domain registration. Whether or not you’ll have to pay more depends on your content strategy. If you’re going to provide the content yourself, you don’t need much to get by. In fact, you can often pull it off with less than $15 a year.

If you really don’t want to spend a single dollar, you do have some free blog options. Popular blogging sites such as Tumblr, WordPress, or Blogger, are a great way to break into the blogging world for absolutely free. Most free blogging sites allow you to link your own custom domain name and are incredibly straightforward to setup. You won’t have access to much help when it comes to tech support, but you most likely won’t need to do much technical maintenance anyways.

Small personal or hobby blog maintenance breakdown:

  • Domain: $12-$20 per year, or $1-$2 per month (domain names over $20 are typically different extensions, such as “.live”)
  • Hosting: $0-$15 per month
  • SSL: $0 if included with hosting, you don’t need SSL if you don’t require any other info from the user
  • Tech Support: $0

Mid-size blog

Surprisingly, a mid-range blog isn’t much more in cost than a small blog. A medium-sized blog or website typically averages around 500-1000 visitors per month. Your charges come directly from what you’re trying to accomplish with the blog. Again, if you’re going to be creating the content yourself, the pricing is basically the same.

The only difference in price comes when you’re looking to expand your blog and possibly break into a larger audience and viewer base. Marketing can either be incredibly expensive or relatively cheap, depending on your goals and strategy. The price of marketing also skyrockets if you plan on using a service to handle it for you. Assuming you’re going to do the marketing yourself, it’ll only run you around $30-$100 a month to operate a small ad-campaign.

Maintenance costs for a mid-sized blog:

  • Domain: $12-$20 a year, or $1 to $2 per month
  • Hosting: $0-$60 per month
  • SSL: $0 to $10. Not needed unless you’re asking for private info (personal or sales)
  • Marketing (ads): depends on goals, budget, and campaign duration. You can typically pull it off with less than $30-$100 per month
  • Tech Support: $0

Large blog or website

If you’re operating a large blog, this is where costs will start to increase on a monthly basis. Large blogs see around 1,000 to over 5,000 visitors per month, which will require bigger server space and possibly some tech support. Exactly how much more money it will cost really just depends on your goals and vision for the site.

A majority of hosting services scale in price based on how many monthly visitors you get. As we mentioned previously, a high-traffic site requires more server space and storage. A large site will also need some more regular maintenance, so unless you can afford to have your site down indefinitely, consider picking up some tech support as well.

Maintaining and running a large blog or website means you’ll need to keep up visibility, so marketing is pretty much a necessity at this level. Ad campaigns are highly variable and can either blow a considerable hole in your wallet or cost the same per month as a Hulu Premium subscription. While it’s not guaranteed to make your site a smash-hit, a bigger budget will inevitably increase your long-term visibility and user base.

Large blog maintenance costs:

  • Domain: $12-$20 a year, or $1-$2 per month
  • Hosting: $5-$800(!) per month
  • SSL: $0-$10 per month. SSL is almost always a must for a large site
  • Marketing (ads): depends on goals, budget, and campaign duration. $100-$500 per month
  • Tech Support: $20-$125+ per month

Mid-range eCommerce site

Mid-range eCommerce sites typically earn between $10k and $50k annually. Running an eCommerce site of this size is surprisingly cheap—costs will typically hover around $30 to $100 a month. This is, of course, assuming you are planning on building your own online shop for your business.

Having a custom eCommerce site built for your business is a more expensive option, and not really necessary unless you’re running a large operation. If you only a small or medium-sized eCommerce shop, you can use certain websites that offer a complete and pre-built shop. Building your own is cheaper, but sites like Weebly make running an eCommerce shop incredibly straightforward.

Mid-range eCommerce site:

  • Domain: $12-$50 a year
  • Hosting: average around $25-30 per month, depending on budget/monthly visitor count
  • SSL: $0 (if provided by hosting service, like Google Domains) up to $150. SSL is something you will definitely need for an eCommerce site of any size
  • Marketing (ads): depends on goals, budget, and campaign duration. Generally between $150-$300 per month for a decent campaign
  • Tech Support: $25-$150 per month

Corporate or enterprise eCommerce site

Large corporate or enterprise eCommerce websites, which make about $500k a year, have expensive maintenance costs. These types of sites can’t afford any downtime—any time customers can’t access your site could lose you thousands of dollars in sales. So, websites of this scale will need tech support, either with a self-run team or hired.

Marketing ad campaigns and tech support will be your most expensive maintenance fees for this type of site. You also have the option of hiring a group of IT workers in-house to help maintain the site, which is typically a cheaper choice.

Corporate or enterprise eCommerce costs:

  • Domain: $12-$300 a year
  • Hosting: $200-$700 per month
  • SSL: $0 to $150 per month. 100% necessary
  • Marketing (ads): depends on goals, budget, and campaign duration
  • Tech Support: $125-$200 per month
  • SEO maintenance: $50-$600 per month

Website maintenance costs details

Now that we’ve provided a brief outline of what costs you can expect, let’s talk more about what each maintenance fee actually entails.

URL (Domain)

All businesses need a domain for their site. Though the most common extension, “.com,” is still the cheapest and most popular ending choice, other endings are becoming more popular. “.net, .live, .info” are just a few examples of possible alternatives to “.com”. Most of these new endings are typically around the same price as their mainstream counterparts. Buying a standard-ending domain through Google Domains is typically around $12-$14 per year. Other endings or buying a popular domain can cost you up to $1,000+ per year.

Website hosting

There are dozens of excellent website hosting services, each offering similar features and tools. Pricing depends on what type of hosting service you’ll actually need for your site. There are three primary types of hosting to choose from: shared, dedicated, and DIY.

Shared hosting

Using a shared server is the cheapest and most common type of hosting service. Shared hosting is ideal if you’re running a blog or small business. It’s also a great choice if you want to run multiple small to medium-sized blogs and websites. Being a part of a shared server does mean less available space, though. If your site does ramp up in visitors, it will slow down your website’s loading time, which can be extremely detrimental. Shared hosting is widely variable in pricing, depending on your needs. It can range from free up to $200 a year.

Dedicated hosting server

Dedicated servers are the most expensive type of web hosting around, meant specifically for big eCommerce shops or corporate/enterprise websites. The average dedicated server can cost between $1,000 to over $12,000 a year. They do provide a massive amount of storage, allowing big sites to draw 100k+ visitors per month.

DIY hosting

A DIY hosting site is precisely what it sounds like—a hosting service that lets you do the majority of the design and customization. DIY hosting websites, such as WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace, is an excellent option for small business owners or someone running a large blog. These services offer comprehensive website building tools, so you also don’t have to be too knowledgeable about coding to use them. Depending on what you need, DIY hosting typically costs between $8 to $480 per month, but some are as cheap as $1 per year.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate

SSL is simply an extra layer of security for a domain—it helps protect user information from snoopers. SSL is something you’ll need if you’re collecting user information in any form. Whether you’re asking for their name on a simple contact form, or you’re running a massive online shop, you should have SSL.

After so many corporations in the past few years have suffered massive information leaks, pretty much everyone is wary about inputting their information in random places. Browsers like Google Chrome now warn users about sites that don’t have SSL. A big red exclamation point and a “not secure” message show up, which is enough to deter most people from entering any sort of details on the site, let alone staying there. So, unless you’re running a small-scale blog or don’t need any info at all from visitors, get SSL!

It’s typically pretty easy and cheap to get an SSL certificate on your site. A lot of web hosting services even offer it for free—Google Domains, for instance, will provide SSL for free with the purchase of a domain name. SSL certificates can cost anywhere from $0 up to $200-$250 per month. For a more complete list of purchase outlets, check this SSL Buyer’s Guide.

Tech support

Tech support is often the most easily dismissible maintenance cost because many small business websites simply don’t need it. Tech support is best for sizeable popular eCommerce shops and large corporate sites, basically any site that requires impeccable performance upkeep.

If you can’t afford to have any problems with your website, it’s worthwhile to drop some more money on tech support. If you own a large enough business, it’s also worth considering hiring staff to handle it in-house (this is also cheaper). Excellent and fast tech support generally isn’t cheap, though, so expect to pay around $100 to upwards of $3,000 every month.